Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy all hallows eve

On this day the Celts believed the veil between this world and the next was so thin that it was almost permeable. It was thought to be a day of transition, from summer to winter, where the dead from the year previous would passover to the eternal realm. I do not worship my ancestors and friends who have gone before me, but I do honor them.

So today I honor the lives that touched mine but have moved on either to the realm where God is or are asleep awaiting the final Resurrection (depending on your theology). These are the people that led me in my faith.

Rest and Reign well my beloved:
-Mark Palmer
-Chad Canipe
-Greg House
-Grandpop Povey
-Grandpop and Grandmom Marshall

Hebrews 12 (The Message)
Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Have a happy hallows.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Freddie Mercury let it rip!!

We Are The Champions
The Phillies have waited 28 years to sing this song again. It's on repeat on my iPod today, it just doesnt' get old.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Check out my April 2, 2008 post

In that post I have my pre-season baseball prediction where I said:

World Series will be the Red Sox vs. the Phillies and the Phillies win in 6! Ryan Howard NL MVP and Series MVP. The man can rake.

The Red Sox of course lost to the Rays, didn't see that coming nor did anyone else including the Ray's mothers. And I'm certainly hoping the Phillies win in 5 tonight and if Ryan Howard has another night tonight as he did last night, he will be the MVP.

If this all comes together, regardless of my homerism, you have to give me some props for the prediction. (Don't cha?)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

28 years is a long time to wait

Its been 28 years since the Phillies won the World Series. They lost the World Series in 1983 and 1993. Tonight begins their next attempt. They started as a franchise in 1883, have 6 World Series appearances but only 1 championship which was in 1980. The famous scene from Tug McGraw above after the final out is one of the best moments in Philadelphia sports history.

My favorite all time Phillies team is definitely 1993, the all mullet team. They were a weekend softball team disguised as the National League Champions. At least 2/3 of them had classic mullets, a true representation of Philly at the time. I will never forget that fateful night when Wild Thing Williams let that ball fly and Joe Carter connected it over the wall to win the World Series. Dramatic to say the least, but only if you were a Blue Jays fan.

So my prediction starting tonight, I'm gonna go with the Phillies in 7 games. I like the Rays a lot and pressure doesn't seem to get to them. I'm literally just hoping the Phillies can claw out 4 wins, I think they are favored in close games with Lidge as the closer. My key to victory is the spark plug, Jimmy Rollins. If he sets the tone and the table, I think the Phillies offense will roll. He's the veteran leader and he can take pressure off of Utley and Howard. Rollins is my pick for Series MVP.

Enough talk, its time for the Fightin' Phllies to bring home another championship, 28years is a long time to wait.

Monday, October 20, 2008

American Entitlement revealed

Listening to the talking heads of the media and all the empty promises of the politicians seeking election, one could be seduced to believe that we are entitled to quite a bit more than our daily bread.

Here is what I've learned. We aren't entitled to crap. God doesn't owe us anything. Not one of us brought ourselves into being, we are creation and the Creator doesn't owe us anything. We are not entitled to prosperous economies, safe neighborhoods, secure futures, good health, home ownership etc. etc. etc. What we have, we have for today and that is a gift of God to be thankful for. If you desire to be a follower of the Way, your inheritance is not of this world, it is holy other. Do not be seduced by the words of the worldly wise, its not about you. You are promised daily bread, nothing more, and that as well is a gift from God.

This passage came to mind today on this subject for me:
Matthew 20
A Story About Workers

1-2 "God's kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work. 3-5"Later, about nine o'clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
5-6"He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o'clock. At five o'clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, 'Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?'

7"They said, 'Because no one hired us.'

"He told them to go to work in his vineyard.

8"When the day's work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, 'Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.'

9-12"Those hired at five o'clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, 'These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.'

13-15"He replied to the one speaking for the rest, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn't we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can't I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?'

16"Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first."

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The night I fell in love with baseball

Growing up in Philly, my parents had divorced before I was born, so I was raised primarily by my grandparents for my first 5-6 years of life. My Mom worked all day and went to school at night to try and make it as a single mom in the 1970's when it wasn't cool. We lived with my grandparents in a duplex in Northeast Philly. It was a summer night in 1976, I was 4 and my grandfather took me to my first major league baseball game. It was the Phillies vs. the Astros and Steve Carlton was the pitcher. It wasn't long til I realized that Carlton is considered one of the top 3 left-handers of all time. He struck out a ton of Astros that night. My grandfather said in the car on the way down to Veteran's stadium, "the Phillies are lousy, except when Carlton is pitching". I can only guess that's why he took me to that game on that night, but I'll forever be grateful.

I was only 4, but I will never forget walking up to the ramps of the Vet for the first time, It was all bigger than life. The lights, the smells, the hot dog, the people, the major league players, the Philly Phanatic, I mean I fell completely in love. It got in my blood, in my veins, I couldn't wait to play this game. I became a Phillies fan that night and now forever. I've also adopted the Reds now that I have lived here in Cincinnati so long, but Philly remains a big part of my heart.

Baseball got me through some tough times in life. When i was really hurting and angry as an adolescent, I always had baseball. I used to tape "This week in baseball" and memorize it before the next episode ran the following week. I played with a ball, a glove and a wall for hours and hours and hours. Anytime whiffle ball or stick ball was happening, I wanted to be there. I turned out to be a pretty decent player. Excelled through junior and high school and played through college. i loved the smell of baseball, I loved the feeling of manicured grass under my feet, i loved getting dirty and I absolutely loved playing under the lights. I get goose bumps just remembering.

Well, the Phillies kicked the Dodgers butt and are now going to the World Series most likely to face Amercia's sweethearts, the Tampa Rays, but my heart will remain with Philly. Nostalgic feelings are running through me tonight watching the Phillies clinch the National League pennant. I will never forget the night I fell in love with baseball. Thanks, grandpop, rest in peace the Phillies are BACK in the SHOW!!!

(insert the Rocky theme song here) peace,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Re-cap of my sports weekend

Ok, LA, you made it a series, now your only down 2-1. But do you seriously want to get into a brawl with the city of brotherly love? Botox ridden, juice drinking, left coast liberals do not want to incite physicalities on the city that bleeds Irish violence. Hollywood, have you not seen Rocky I-IV? 90210? Seriously, you do not want a piece of this. See ya tonight where this movie for you won't have a good ending. Manny, the next one is coming at your ribs.

Ohio state won, but they are not the best team in the Big Ten. Penn State is back, Joe Pa is eternal. Kudos to Texas, Florida and Ok. State as well on huge victories. And to my newly adopted team, continued Guns Up to the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.

Bengals suck oh so badly. Do we have the desire and the perseverance to successfully pull off an 0-16 season? Let's at least make history if we're gonna suck so badly.

apparently there is more to life than sports, but its a nice outlet none-the-less for me.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Let's Go Phillies!!

Up 1-0, the East Coast over the Weak Coast. Let's keep it going.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things I noticed from John 8

I shared this narrative in Texas last week and I'm not sure if it was for them or me but as I was studying it, I noticed a few things.

John 8
1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

1) If they are really "teachers of the law" and religious leaders, why are they interupting Jesus' teaching? (translation: judge a leader by their fruit, not their title)

2) If the woman was caught in "adultery" then she was married. The Law of Moses in Deut. 22:23 says that stoning is required for a betrothed or an engaged woman, not a married one. Should teachers of the law know their own law? (translation: Often our absolutes in theology are actually just representative of our bias preferences and not gospel truth)

3) "Jesus bent down" and said nothing. This is a genius communication skill. In the event, the Pharisees held all the power and momentum by interupting and throwing at least a half-naked woman in the middle if not fully naked. How does Jesus diffuse the situation, steer the power away from the bullies and protect the dishonored woman? He uses silence and it was deafening. He doesn't honor their cruelty with a verbal response, he does the counter-intuitive. Then they are exposed for their cruelty like a giant spot light is upon them. Jesus takes on the eyes of the crowd to what he's drawing in the sand (and away from the vulnerable woman, perhaps even giving her time to cover up).

Jesus' non-verbal skills utilized in this event are just genius. He does not have the title of a "teacher of the law", rather he just embodies and lives out the very heartbeat of the Law of God, to honor and love his Creation. I find these values of humility and strong compassion very rare for male leaders I've observed and come across in my lifetime. The stereotypical strong male leader/CEO type is the easy way out, its mostly just leadership in the flesh. Show me someone with the inner strength and character like Jesus instead of the outside bravado and I'll show you genius leadership.

4) If anyone of you is without sin throw the first stone. The law says the witness to the event is the one who starts the stoning. So which man and religious leader is gonna be the one to say they were peering in together and watching the adulterous act. Or even more so, was one of them the male witness involved in the act? This sounds less like activities for the teachers of the law and more like a scene from the Porky's movies triology.

5) The woman finds herself not alone, but in the presence of the only one who cares about the true her and sees beyond her sinful behavior. Jesus fought and protected her dignity, treated her as the daughter of God that she was. Jesus gives her words of compassion first, then follows with words of discipline and holiness. Notice the order . . .compassion then a call for holiness. The mercy of God is not earned, its freely given then leads us to change out of gratitude.

Just some things I noticed.

Peace to your moment of genius today,

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Beautiful Rebellion

Texas Tech Guns up!

Just got back from Lubbock, Texas today where I spent the past 5 days teaching at the Texas Tech Wesley Foundation Fall Retreat at Sipapu Ski Resort in New Mexico. My best friend from seminary, Al Martin, is the director of the campus ministry there and arranged for me to come out and I accepted his hospitality. It was a great few days. I spoke at their weekly gathering in Lubbock on Thursday evening and then 4 more times over the next couple days at the retreat in New Mexico. I haven't done a lot of speaking in the past couple years but this time I actually asked God for an opportunity, Al contacted me and I said yes pretty much immediately and I'm glad I did.

I did my best to try and communicate life in the Kingdom of God and I entitled the series of talks, "The Beautiful Rebellion". There were about 110 college students on the retreat and they are a pretty special group of kids. They love worship, emobdy community and were earnest learners in our time together, can't ask for much more. Particularly on Saturday night, after I was finished speaking on "War in the Kingdom Now", the worship team came back up for a time of reflection and then the presence of God and his grace began to move pretty powerfully through the learning community. It led to God doing a lot of healing, convicting, speaking and setting captives free . . . the good stuff.

For me, it was an important time personally. I really sought to sit in reflection during the worship times and just listen and receive cuz my past few weeks have been pretty dark and even agonizing. I was able to get some rest, do a lot of reading and just reflect away from my day job which has been sucking me dry. I'm waiting on God and there is just no short-cut for that. He is sufficient and I have to submit to that and trust in a hope I can't see.

For now I'm glad to be home but finding myself very thankful for this blessed trip.